Please welcome my guest, Vonnie Davis. Vonnie is an award winning romance author and a fellow author in the Love Letters series published by The Wild Rose Press.
Katherine, thanks for having me here as a guest and allowing me to talk about my part in The Wild Rose Press’s Love Letters series—TUMBLEWEED LETTERS. Within the first three pages, a letter must arrive that changes one of the character’s life forever, bringing love and the happy-ever-ever ending we all love.
I’d read the first couple stories from the series and loved the history included in each one. To add to the appeal of writing and submitting something for the series were all the romantic possibilities. Where would one find a letter? If it arrived by normal mail delivery, who could it be from? Would the letter initially bring happiness or sadness? And, if I were to write something for this series, what era would I chose?
After a lot of research, my focus settled on Deadwood, Dakota Territory in 1879. Now my grown sons would smirk and tell you I chose this era because it’s when I grew up. How those two wisenheimers lived to adulthood, I’ll never know. I chose it because I love cowboys, plain and simple.
Slowly, facts coalesced into a storyline. The Molly McGuires. A smallpox epidemic. Whites encroaching onto Indian Reservations to build towns. Calamity Jane’s friendship with a brothel madam. All the while I was doing research, a little boy came to me at night to throw temper tantrums in my sleep. In telling Sophie and Cam’s story, I also gave Eli his. I hope you’ll give TUMBLEWEED LETTERS a try.
When rancher and single father Cam McBride finds a letter tucked in a strip of cloth tied to a tumbleweed, he is captivated by the mysterious author. Finding a second tumbleweed letter further pulls him under the lonely writer's spell. He needs a mother for his little boy and a wife to warm his bed. Could this mysterious woman fill his needs?
Sophie Flannigan is alone, scared, and on the run from a rogue Pinkerton agent. She spends her days as a scrub lady at Madame Dora's brothel and her nights writing notes to the four winds. Her life holds little hope until a small boy lays claim to her and his handsome father proposes an advantageous arrangement.
Can these three benefit from a marriage of convenience, or will a determined Pinkerton agent destroy their fragile, newly formed bond?
Cam McBride fought to keep his horse under control. “Steady, now. Steady, Samson.” He reined the chestnut to the left away from the rolling tumbleweed. “Just another wind witch.” Leaning forward, he patted his mount’s neck. Leather creaked, and Samson snorted. “I know those tumbleweeds spook you.”
Eli turned slightly in front of him, and Cam’s palm automatically went to the child’s waist for support. “Drink, Daddy.” His son pointed to the roaring creek beyond the golden, swaying Aspens.
“Okay. Drink.” He dismounted and lifted his two-year old from his perch behind the saddlehorn. “Stay, now. Don’t go running off.”
“Stay,” Eli repeated with a nod, his wheat-colored hair fluttering in the breeze.
Cam led his horse to the creek. He removed his canteen and pulled a metal cup from his saddlebags.
“No, Daddy, drink.” Eli pointed to the creek and did his I-want-what-I-want jig, kicking up a little dust in the process. “Cold drink.” He crossed his little arms and stuck out his lower lip.
They’d been riding the range since sun-up, slowly herding his small drove of cattle to lower ground in preparation for winter. No doubt the cranky boy needed a nap. “Okay, you get your way. I’m too tired to argue.” He stepped into the high grass along the bank, squatted and leaned forward, extending the tin cup to catch fresh water gurgling over a mound of rocks in the stream. Cam leaned back on his hunkers. “Here’s your drink.”
Eli trotted over and grabbed the offered cup. “Dank-you,” he chirped in a sing-song voice.
“You’re welcome, Son.” He ruffled the boy’s curls and listened to the child’s gulping and breathing echo within the metal cup. His Amanda would be pleased he was teaching her son manners. She’d always set great store by them, growing up in the South the way she had. No doubt his beloved was smiling from heaven at his awkward attempts to raise their boy alone.
The offending tumbleweed that spooked Samson moments earlier snagged his attention. A sliver of color dangled within it. He took his son’s hand and walked him away from the stream toward the tumbleweed caught between a couple scrub pines.
He stooped to untangle a piece of blue calico. Maybe Eli would enjoy playing with it. As he untied the knotted material, paper crackled. What’s this?
Cam unfolded the remnant of calico. A piece of newspaper was tucked inside. Wasn’t that odd? As he turned the torn paper over, slanted writing along the margins caught his eye. Before he began reading, he gave Eli the scrap of calico.
“To the four winds, I hate it here. I miss Pennsylvania. I miss my home with my things about me. I miss my students and my husband, hooligan that he was. My friends told me nothing good would come from marrying him, but love only sees what it wants. Now I am alone, on the run and without funds. I barely earn my keep. I have no hope of happiness and no one to talk to, except you—the four winds.”
“Mine.” Eli held out the blue strip of fabric so it fluttered in the breeze.
“That’s right, son.” Cam turned the scrap of newspaper over in hopes of reading more. Nothing, but an ad for winter coats at Munter and Lillanthal’s in Deadwood. The paper’s name, Black Hills Pioneer, was printed in the corner. No more handwriting and no signature. So a lonely, unhappy woman wrote a note to nobody and secreted it within the folds of fabric and tied it to a tumbleweed? He ran a hand across the back of his neck. If that wasn’t the strangest thing.
THE WILD ROSE PRESS -- http://bit.ly/TumbleweedLetters
You can find me online at http://www.vonniedavis.com